WestJet has touched down in Brandon and for people in Neepawa it could mean shorter vehicle travel distance, quicker trips and less hassle on family vacations.
WestJet's first flight between the Wheat City and Calgary hit the tarmack in Brandon just before 1 p.m. last Tuesday. The flight will now be a daily round-trip offering with a 78-seat plane leaving Calgary at 9:50 a.m., landing in Brandon at 12:50 p.m. and departing back to Calgary at 1:20 p.m.
Brandon's already welcomed the flights with open arms – over 800 people were on site as the first flight arrived – but the new option will also save Neepawa area residents both time and money.
“We've had a good response so far for the flight. We've had numerous bookings already for it both online at our website and through our agents,” Gill and Schmall's Don Schmall told The Neepawa Press Friday. “It's good for our whole region, and it won't just affect us for Brandon/Calgary flights, it will also make connecting flights for people coming out of the Neepawa area easier.”
Aside from shaving off over an hour of driving each way to Winnipeg for flights to Calgary, Schmall noted that locals planning to take in some warm weather vacations this winter or fall should see the benefits.
“What it does is opens up opportunities. Now people who are heading to Hawaii, or Palm Springs, or to the west coast, can have that connecting flight by leaving out of Brandon,” Schmall noted.
WestJet has also noted, if flight sales are successful, there's the
potential for flights to Eastern Canada to be added out of Brandon.
WestJet used to have three flights weekly out of Brandon between 1999 and 2001 and about 20-some years ago Pacific and Western also ran flights out of Brandon. Both weren't continued in part due to costs of flying – and the difficulty in filling - larger planes, but the smaller planes now being used for the flights should be more maintainable, WestJet has said.
“The smaller airplane is more economical. I think they are going to be successful,” Schmall said. “I just hope Westman supports it.”